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Privacy in Marriage: Are you sharing too much or too little?

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People have every tool available for better communication in these modern times, but are we actually communicating better?  And in this age of social media and oversharing, how do women and mothers manage their very human need for privacy in a marriage or partnership?

Building a strong partnership requires mutual trust and understanding, common goals and purpose, and good and effective communication – values shared and often espoused by Maxis. In a bid to promote better communication and habits among partners and spouses, makchic then set out to survey our readership. What did they share and choose not to share with their partners, and what did they think was necessary for a healthy relationship?

Here’s what we discovered :

Sharing too much or too little

Our respondents were almost equally divided: 51 per cent of our readers said they did not share everything with their partners, while 49 per cent of them did.  However, when we later asked the question ‘What would you not share with your partner?’,  we had more replies about what women and mothers wanted to keep to themselves.

From more hilarious offerings from wives saying they kept their shopping purchases secret, (“The real price of my bags and shoes”) to more serious emotional confessions (“Things I don’t like about his family”), it was evident that women kept certain things from their husbands.

Some readers talked about keeping their shopping habits from their husbands.

While many women’s replies indicated they were perfectly happy with keeping some things to themselves, others seemed to hint at underlying issues. Some respondents, for example, said they would keep things to themselves should there be any communication with exes, admirers or male colleagues.

Others said they would probably not share certain emotions or feelings with their husband, either out of fear of disappointment, or because it would probably start a fight. One wife said she would not share “how I’m hurt by some of his mum’s actions or words towards me.”

Striking the right balance is key

So how much exactly should one share with their partner, and is it truly necessary for trust?

The advances in technology gave us access to many different ways of ‘spying’ on our partners. You could download apps that would allow you to track them, stalk them through social media, and even install spyware on their computers, phones and cars.

However, a healthy relationship allows you a right to privacy. But, what this privacy means could be different from one couple to another. In fact, it might even mean different things within a partnership.

Readers had different views about how much they should share with their partners.

When asked to discuss issues of trust and disclosure in a relationship, Rozaimah Khalid, a counsellor and family therapist with The Mind Psychological Services and Training, offered that past experiences and a person’s own relationship with his or her parents could factor hugely in the type of relationship he or she would build with their partners. She added, that we have the tendency to adopt the same values or types of communication our parents had.

“This goes way back even during their childhood, and their relationship with their parents. How secure they felt, and the type of attachment they built,” she told makchic.

You don’t have to share everything

Would you really share everything with your own partner?

If you are not comfortable sharing every little detail of your past, especially your past relationships, you are entitled to keeping these details private.

When it comes to cell phone privacy, the Phone Drop Test posed a very simple question, “if you drop your phone right now, and give complete access to your partner, what will they find?”

Should this be private? Unequivocally, yes.

But, if the very idea of giving your partner access to your cell phone puts you on a defensive, it might be time to step back, reassess your feelings and the state of your relationship.

But there are things you should share

There were overwhelming replies from our readers on financial secrecy.  Some were happy to share the details with their partners, while others were reluctant to fully disclose their income and savings. This is not uncommon. According to a study, around 7 per cent of those polled concealed their financial accounts and their credit card spendings from their partner.

How many women feel this way about finances?

However, there was acknowledgement that the state of one’s finances affected both partners in the relationship. It is important for partners to come clean when it comes to financial situations, as one reader shared that, “hiding (their) spending or a financial burden can breed resentment and mistrust.”

Another reader shared about having a common goal and revisiting it every few months. Sharing future plans, be it for their own careers or further education, buying a house or planning a getaway, would not only allow partners to work together, but help them avoid conflicts upon later discovery that their plans are not truly aligned.

It might be difficult for partners to fully share these details in the beginning. You could start small. Don’t underestimate the small things. Even small things can have a big impact or signify a bigger commitment, like sharing a phone plan. With the MaxisONE Share plan, partners can lower their monthly expenditures and also get the latest smartphones on supplementary lines with zero upfront fees.

While our readers may not have touched on this issue, there should also be complete transparency when it comes to health. Partners should never hide serious or debilitating illnesses from each other.

Healthy habits to cultivate

Marriage is hard. A reader sent us a message, saying that she had been married for 6 years, but admitted that while they may have looked like a happy and lovely couple, honest disclosures left them arguing and disagreeing “all the time.”

While an overwhelming 93% of our readers agreed that sharing is key to a successful relationship, they had more to say when we asked for their tried-and-tested tips to keep their relationship “healthy.”

Here were some of their top tips:

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate

While good communication is a no-brainer, some of our readers also said it was imperative for couples to learn how to argue. “Fight well,” said one reader. “Learn how to argue,” said another. “I come to respect and improve myself from arguing with my husband. If the argument is all yelling and abusive, then that’s unhealthy,” a wife said. A respondent recommended motivational speaker Jay Shetty’s podcasts and videos for relationship advice. You could also try these tips shared by psychologists, on the best way to fight with your partner.

2. Honesty

Some readers were adamant that there should be no secrets between couples. Others said if there were good communication and real honesty with the most important things, then one did not have to know every single thing about their partner.  “You don’t need to know what they do and where they are every second of the day. Trust.”

3. Acceptance and compromise

Many respondents said it was important for couples to truly know and accept each other.  Whether it was accepting flaws, managing expectations or forgiveness, it was important to continue to get to know their other half’s thoughts and feelings about things. A reader said she has self-reflection sessions with her partner daily. If you need some guidelines, here are some questions you can work through with your spouse.

4. Respect and healthy boundaries

Some women shared that they wanted their partners to understand that while bonding time is important, it is equally important that they have alone time to recharge. There should be respect for each other’s space and privacy. According to Rozaimah, the extent of how much one shares with their partner may also reflect several other issues. “If you have to ‘report’ everything to your husband, my question then would be whether he’s a controlling partner.”

5. Appreciate the little things  (… and SEX!)

Some of our readers also said it was important to remember the small details, such as saying thank you, giving kisses, and praising the little things. Others offered the bonding benefits of praying together.  Readers also replied that it was important to keep things sexy in the marriage. “Never stop flirting,” said one respondent. “Probably some dirty texting once in a while,’ said another.

Ultimately, our readers spoke about the importance of communication, and gave plenty of other practical tips. Lower your expectations (no one is perfect). Say what you want him to do, instead of just ‘hoping’. Even when you have kids, don’t forget to cuddle. Put your phones down when you’re bonding.

When couples are in a position of real honesty and trust, partners would be able to share their whole lives happily with each other, while retaining their privacy and personal space.

Good luck mummies, and thank you for sharing!

This post is sponsored by Maxis. With the new MaxisONE Share, sharing a phone plan now allows every couple to get their own smartphones, even on supplementary lines.  On the lowest monthly plan in town, each RM48/month Share Line can share data, choose a range of Apple and Android phones at zero upfront fee.

In case you missed it, click on the video below to see some of the responses shared during the recent Sharing Session on makchic!

From our team of purposeful, multi-faceted mummies. For editorial or general enquiries, email to us at [email protected]

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